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From Financial Supervision to Morality Construction

Pierre Sel

China's Social Credit System is usually presented as an ambitious governance tool, aiming both at economic regulation and "trustworthiness construction". This representation of the system is, however, based on policy narratives that have yet to be studied. This research thus sheds light on their role during the early elaboration process of the social credit system. Drawing on an uncharted collection of academic texts, political speeches, and policy documents, this article shows that academics and policymakers drew on three distinct narratives, each of which buttressed one broad domain of the system. During the 1990s, the first two narratives focused on financial supervision and economic fraud and led to early policy experimentation in the form of credit investigation and early credit archives. Starting in 2001, however, policy advocates anchored the social credit system to Jiang Zemin's idea "to combine rule by law and virtue". This successful bandwagoning introduced a broader notion of trustworthiness to the system, which not only rendered social credit policy more salient to a greater number of people but framed the system as a part of the response to the growing "morality crisis", an omnipresent concern of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften
ÖFOS 2012
506005 Forschungspolitik, 506012 Politische Systeme
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